Roundup: Mariangela Lisanti, Maserati, Staples Class of ’52 …

In 2001, Mariangela was a Staples High School rock star.

The senior won the national Siemens Westinghouse Science & Technology Competition. And the Intel Science Talent Search (where she met President Bush). Each came with a $100,000 scholarship (!).

But she did not stop there. Mariangela was captain of the Staples math team, founder and captain of the engineering team, concertmaster of the Chamber and Symphonic Orchestras, and the recipient of honors in Italian and Spanish (both of which she is fluent in.) Of course, she was valedictorian.

Then, at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in San Jose, California, the Harvard-bound graduate was awarded the Glenn Seaborg Nobel Prize Visit Award — earning a trip to the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm.

So what is Mariangela up to these days?

She earned a Ph.D. from Stanford in 2010, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science. She’s been on the physics faculty at Princeton University since then.

A theoretical particle physicist by training, her research focuses on the nature of dark matter. Mariangela’s interdisciplinary work incorporates ideas from astrophysics and data science. Currently, she’s focusing on how variations of the Cold Dark Matter paradigm affect galactic and sub-galactic scale observables.

So why today’s “06880” shout-out?

She’s just been named a Simons Foundation Investigator. This too is a very big deal.

The Simons Investigators program supports outstanding theoretical scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership and mentoring junior scientists.

Simons Investigators are appointed for 5 years, renewable for another 5. Each Investigator receives research support of $100,000 per year. An additional $10,000 per year is provided to the Investigator’s department

Congratulations, Mariangela. You continue to make Staples, and Westport, proud.

Keep rockin’ the world! (Hat tip: Steve Stein)

Mariangela Lisanti

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Speaking of Staples: Sunday’s “06880” Roundup gave a shout-out to the Class of 1962. They celebrated their 60th year reunion at the Ned Dimes Marina.

But they’re mere children, compared to the Class of ’52. Let’s hear it for them!

Nine alums just enjoyed their 70th (!) reunion at Rive Bistro — not far from their old high school, on Riverside Avenue. (Today it’s Saugatuck Elementary).

Ed Backus — a 1948 graduate — joined them, making them feel very young.

The class has met every 5 years since graduation day: Friday the 13th, 1952. “Our Staples ties are strong!” says Jess Thompson Huberty.

They are indeed. Hail, Staples! Hail, Class of ’52!

Staples High School Class of 1952 at Rive Bistro: Seated (from left):Lu List Morris, Susan Stokes. Middle row: Roxanne Gette Martin, Barbara Hendricks Chamberlain, Jess Thompson Huberty, Sonja Messelt Ziluca, Don Switter, Ed Backus. Rear: Bill Gault. Sending regrets: Bev Breault, Lynn Lucke Lutkin, Steven Miller, Concetta Palazzo Fedak, Mary Ellen Kottgen McKenna.

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The Maserati owner figured he’d be okay on Sunday. His car stuck just a yard or two past the “No Parking” sign on Hillspoint Road, coming from Compo Beach toward Old Mill.

The sign is there for a reason. It’s a dangerous spot. This happened next:

(Photos/Jerry Kuyper)

But that’s not the end of the story.

As of yesterday afternoon — 72 hours later — the very expensive convertible was still there.

(Photo/John Richers)

And debris from its body still littered the road.

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Speaking of parking, how about this trifecta near Gaetano’s?

The driver is:

  1. Facing the wrong way
  2. Next to a “No Parking” sign, which is right by a …
  3. Fire hydrant.

Must have been a deli emergency!

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The Westport Journal has a new executive editor. Thane Grauel succeeds Jarret Liotta in the top post at the year-old online news site July 1. Liotta will focus on photography and video projects.

Grauel has been a reporter at the Westport News, managing editor at the Westport Minuteman and editor of The Hour, among other publications.

“The news business is so different now,” he told “06880.” “At the Westport News we had 5 guys covering Town Hall, plus sports, business, entertainment and real estate. The chains have gobbled everything up. People are not being served like before.”

However, Grauel says, “Westport is one of the best-covered towns in Connecticut, online. People here are really engaged. They want to know what’s going on.”

Grauel is a 4th-generation Westporter, though after Kings Highway Elementary School his family moved to Milford. He graduated from the University of Connecticut, and is a Navy veteran.

Thane Grauel (Photo courtesy of Westport Journal)

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Speaking of writing:

Bilingual journalist and writer Camila Vallejo earns the first-ever Writer-in-Residence prize from Fairfield County Story Lab, the shared workspace in Saugatuck for creative types.

Vallejo covers housing and social justice issues for Connecticut Public Radio and WNPR, and is a member of Report for America. She has been a part-time producer for All Things Considered (read and hear some of her stories here).

The FC Story Lab’s Writer-in-Residence prize is for early-career writers. Vallejo’s residency will enable her to work for free at the Story Lab in Saugatuck. The Lab will install a new media suite, so she can record radio pieces there. While she reports statewide — including pieces on housing disparities in Fairfield County — she often files stories from a closet at home.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual today,” says FC Story Lab co-founder Carol Dannhauser.

“Many media companies have trimmed their newsrooms and all but eliminated their bureaus. This means that young reporters, especially, can’t experience the alchemy that happens in a newsroom, where people bounce ideas off of each other and offer suggestions when stories hit a dead-end.”

During her 6-month residency, Vallejo will host 2 events for students and recent graduates interested in a career in journalism or media.

Camila Vallejo

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So how many jellybeans were in the Staples Tuition Grants contest?

41,330. The winning guess of 41,472 — off by just 142 — was by Emerson Watkins. In second place (41,501) was Sean Wagner. Both will receive gift certificates to their favorite Westport restaurant.

Hundreds of people entered the contest. Guesses ranged from 540 to 751,000.

STG plans to continue the contest next year. It’s another great (and fun) way to help raise some of the $400,000 that was given in scholarships to Staples seniors and alumni this year.

As you can see, there were 41,472 jellybeans here.

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Last summer, dozens of Fleishers Craft Butchery employees at 4 locations walked off the job after CEO John Adams removed Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride signs that workers had put in windows at the Westport store.

Though they had been there for months, a customer had only recently complained.

After the walkout, most employees quit. The shops remained closed until March, when one in Brooklyn reopened. Now it — the final store in what was once hailed as “the mecca of the good-meat movement,” with “rock star butchers” — has closed too.

New York magazine says that after the Westport incident — and the effects of COVID on, particularly, the Upper East Side location — “Fleishers never again found its footing.” Though owner Rob Rosania apologized and offered employees raises to return, the company was cooked.

With the final closing, you can put a fork in Fleishers. (Click here for the full New York magazine story. Hat tip: Tom Prince)

The Fleishers signs. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Sorvino, for Forbes)

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One store closes, another opens: Westport’s newest business is Wash The Dog. Angela Koza’s “self-service dog wash” just opened at 375 Post Road West.

There are 6 stainless steel tubs, so people can wash — and blow dry — their dogs. Full service grooming also available.

The grand opening is this Saturday (June 25). Arf!

Wash the Dog!

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Speaking of creatures, Dave Lowrie writes:

“I’ve been waiting to capture the right ‘Westport … Naturally’ photo. I think I have it: an early visitor to my compost pile.”

Bingo!

(Photo/Dave Lowrie)

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And finally … in honor of Mariangela’s galactic work (story above):

(Across the universe — well, across “06880” — readers contribute to keep us going. Please click here to help.)

10 responses to “Roundup: Mariangela Lisanti, Maserati, Staples Class of ’52 …

  1. Richard Johnson

    Almost daily, there’s a post on 06880 that would cause any thinking person to wonder: “What does WPD do, exactly?” Today, it’s leaving the wreckage of a car crash in a busy road.

  2. The Marieangela Lisanti post reminds me of the fun summer I had back when I was 16, also studying how variations of the Cold Dark Matter paradigm affect galactic and sub-galactic scale observables. Boy those were good times!

  3. Regarding the Trifecta at Gaetano’s – the only way to beat that would be if the car alarm was on.
    I hope this doesn’t turn into a competition where people try to outdo each other in bad parking practices

  4. Dan- you do an amazing job of taking a simple tip about a Westport connection – Marieangela Lisanti- and filling in much needed background information, making it all readable and even more importantly understandable!!

    But you will you do a followup explaining exactly what is dark matter, what are the dark forces and what it all means to Westport’s future!!

  5. I’d like to make a comment regarding the picture of the 1952 Staples High School graduates. For their age, they look great! They all have to be 88 years old. Great picture

  6. the turtle pictured is a box turtle, a land turtle. I have seen only a few in the area!

  7. Andrew Colabella

    Beautiful box turtle. I have about a dozen + in my backyard on Old mill pond.

    For the trifecta of parking, I love prosciutto so much, but I would still park in a space on the correct side of the road like a decent law abiding citizen.

    And that Maserati…ugh

  8. Dermot Meuchner

    The Westport police are like glorified mall cops lol. What a joke.

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